Our third group meeting - the value of our group and giving thanks.

We had our third group meeting about a week ago on the evening of Monday, May 8, 2018 at the Steinway Piano Gallery. Stephen did not attend as he usually teaches on Monday nights. So it was Edel, James and I. We were very happy to welcome three new attendees - Michelle, Erika and Rick who are all learning piano as well. As usual, we easily filled two hours with discussion and performances. Our topics touched on the following: how long each of us had been learning piano and what level we were at, why Edel and I are learning Conservatory Canada and not RCM - the latter being the norm, Ludovico Einaudi and how both Michelle and Edel love playing his compositions , the practicality of digital pianos, how important it is for digital piano owners to practice playing on acoustic pianos, the strategies to avoid injury while playing piano and the CASSA adult piano camp in July. It was again a very interesting night as we listened to everyone's music journeys and heard performances from everyone except Rick (he had forgotten to bring his music book - hopefully next time we will get a chance to hear him).

I would like to say how I treasure our meetings. I was talking to one of my piano teachers, Kevin Ngo, and he was commenting on the value of peer performances and sharing. He said that in his music graduate studies, he and his fellow students played for each other often and he found it important and gratifying to receive honest praise and feedback from his peers. This is sometimes missing from the student-teacher conversation. He said that this is because teachers are so focused on getting to the next step that they forget to praise their students for what they have achieved up to that point. So the student has the feeling that the progress that they have made is never good enough for their teacher. This is where the value of our group comes in. Even if we do hear praise from our teacher, it is great to hear praise and recognition of progress from a source other than your teacher. it is something that every student yearns for. it is one of the reasons that this group holds such great value for me and I hope it does for other group members too. All group members should strive to give good concrete feedback to their fellow group members.

I have been learning classical piano for over 4.5 years now. But I also have a singing teacher - my vocal jazz coach, Deanne Matley. I started taking lessons from Deanne a year ago and I have learned so much from her. She has been instrumental in not only helping me find my own unique jazz voice but also has become a great role model for me. Deanne is a very smart, action-oriented woman. I learned about how she took her many ideas and made them reality. She did that with her Listening Room Series, with her new album, "Because I Loved", which she just released this past month and her many philanthropic endeavors. This group owes it existence to a large extent to Deanne because when I had doubts about whether I could make my idea into reality, I would think about Deanne and her successes. It was in this way that I was able to just keep going and take the idea and make it real. And I also realize that an idea can only go so far without interested supporters. It is because of our group members that we have come this far. We now have had our third group meeting and our fourth group learning experience will occur in 8 days time on May 25th. So I am taking the advice of my teacher, Kevin, and I want to pause at this point and reflect and appreciate our achievements with this group. I want to express my gratitude to Deanne and also to my piano teacher, Kevin, who has

given me a lot of encouragement and support. I also want to thank our group members' who have voiced their appreciation to me and who continue to support and engage by attending group meetings. Group members have helped drive the direction of this group. Without their participation, this group would not exist so I am thankful for each and every group members' commitment to the group. I am very excited about the new opportunities and new experiences that our group will undergo. And I will endeavor to continue working with our members to make things happen for our group!

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